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How difficult is it to defer?


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I recently got admitted to PhD programs for Materials Science at MIT and Stanford. However, I'm also running a very early stage VC-backed software startup company. If we made any big funding rounds, do you think that would be a decent reason for deferring? And are universities usually open to that sort of reasoning?

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If you are already admitted, you need to ask them. I have seen it very clearly marked on some program pages that deferment is NOT permitted, and that you will have to go through the admissions process all over again.

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It really really depends on the program.


Also, some schools (like mine) will let you take a leave of absence (up to 2 years) to do what you want to do (i.e. start up a company). My school has a policy that if you are in a position like the CEO, CFO, CTO etc. then you must take the leave of absence because it is a conflict of commitment. If you are in an advising type role, then you are allowed to remain a full time graduate student while you do this stuff on your off-time. 


However, I don't remember if most schools will require you to be enrolled for a certain amount of time before you can exercise these leaves options. You will also need permission from your department/advisors etc. I would recommend that you ask these schools as soon as possible, and provide the reason you would want to defer, because maybe there is a "no deferrals" policy but they can fit you in on a "leave of absence" type policy. 

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